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Foxtails are a real problem for dogs in the summer. When you take the dog for a nice walk out in the fields, you have to be very careful not to let these seemingly innocuous dry grass heads get onto the dog’s fur because they can burrow themselves into his skin and cause some real problems!

What are foxtails

Foxtails are the tips of grass-like weeds that range in colour from straw yellow to a darker brown. They are pointed and covered in dense and prickly hairs. They grow in lawns and fields, so the danger or your dog is very real whether you are out in the country or walking in parks in the city.

Symptoms and consequences of foxtails

Foxtails can penetrate and embed themselves in your dog’s skin, but they are hard to get out because of their spiny surface. When they dig into the skin they can cause serious infection and so it is very important to remove them as soon as you notice them. You can do this with your hands, carefully, but sometimes it’s better to head to your vet’s office and have them do it. They can actually get so embedded that they have to be surgically removed!

The areas most prone to getting foxtails are ears, nose, mouth and eyes. Other areas that should be checked with care include paws, underarms, the penile sheath and below the tail.

The symptoms are easy to spot: check for red, infected areas, bumps with pus, or areas the dog is suddenly licking insistently, if there is frequent sneezing or coughing in an unusual way.

Prevention of foxtails

You can diminish the risk of getting foxtails by making sure the dog doesn’t go running off into high grassy areas, or keep him out of places where you see the high spiky weeds grow. Dogs with long hair run the greatest risk, and a good clipping as summer begins is a tremendous help in keeping the problem at bay.

It’s a good idea to carefully inspect your dog’s fur after every walk, keep it clean and free of debris. Brushing is a great way to find out if it has any, as your dog will react when the brush touches areas where the foxtail has already begun to burrow into its skin.

Now that you know all about foxtails and their prevention, go out and enjoy a nice walk!

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